How Long Have You Been Saying You Wish You Could Go On A Retreat?


Travelling to Spain 2015 – I looked confident but inside I was so nervous

Can you think of a time when you personally were stuck in indecision or perhaps inactivity?

Maybe you heard yourself using language that focused on blaming and berating yourself for procrastinating. Now be curious about where you need to be to think clearly? What works for you to make a good decision?

One of the things that I talk about in the book “Manage Your Critic – From Overwhelm to Clarity in 7 steps” is the importance of space.

Did you know that your brain is storing information all the time? Recording and recalling all that you see, hear and feel. Where you are physically, can impact your thinking and that can be positively or negatively.

For many of my clients they are like me, entrepreneurs who work hard for their family who often work from home. Whilst working from home can provide you with flexible, low cost working space that allows you to be with your family, it also means that work, personal and family are often crammed into one physical space which can, in my experience start to reflect your thinking.

Everything blends into one in your head, causing those feelings of overwhelm. You might feel like you cannot cram another thought in. Your body might be complaining and giving you signals that you are emotionally overloaded. All too often you ignore it, park it and push on. Sadly, too many wait until crisis hits before they listen to that little voice in their head giving them the clues that something is not right.

Spain 2016 - Writing Retreat celebrating my first book and inspiring others

Spain 2016 – Writing Retreat celebrating my first book and inspiring others

When you want to gain clarity it is important to ask questions that start to separate the information out and gain some order, logic and awareness. With each question you can start to gain a new perspective and with each iteration you can unravel what is happening now and what you would like to have happen. And as you do this it is important to separate fact, from the story and assumptions your brain has made up to make sense of all the information it has collected in fast succession.

For years I had yearned to go on a retreat, I remember talking to my counsellor at the time who was supporting me through my divorce. I felt lost and I was needing to get away but didn’t know what I could do on my own. My counsellor handed me her copy of the brochure from Cortijo-romero in 2005 and every year since I have received my own copy.

And every year it arrives I put it on the side and say one day I will go on this. I would tell Mark and I now know that I was waiting for him to give me permission and sometimes I would be frustrated that he didn’t make it easy for me. I was dropping massive hints, he knew I wanted it so why hadn’t he just booked it or at least asked me why I hadn’t booked it. Instead he would listen and smile and say nothing. He assumed I would go, if that was what I wanted to do. He has always seen me as confident and capable even when I completely lost sight of it.

I told myself that I couldn’t afford it, or I didn’t have time but the real reasons were fear and guilt.

With this particular company you had to find your own way from the airport to the resort and alone time really scared me. I think they now offer a transfer service.

It is hard to explain but I needed to be away from everything at home, I was saying I needed time for myself but I was petrified of being alone all at the same time. Who would I be without someone to care for and what would I do if I only had to care for me. That was not a world I was familiar with and it was uncomfortable.

sunset day 1

Time to tune into nature and listen to your own natural flow

What I know now is that I was so focused on helping others that I really found it hard to look after myself, I found it hard to ask for my needs to be met until I learned to manage my critic so that I had clarity of what I wanted.

I felt guilty for leaving my children to do something just for me. I felt guilty that my marriage had failed and that I even needed or craved time out. My parents were the kind that didn’t have sitters or go out much when we were younger. They seemed so much stronger than me and never seemed to need a rest or a break from us kids and I felt bad that I didn’t have their constitution.

Not to mention they were the only people I would have trusted with my children for a week. Then mum died in 2006 and so that source of support was gone. By 2007 Mark and I were living together but even then that didn’t feel right to ask him to take care of my children to give me a break.

What would people think?

How wrong would it be for him to take time off work and not have an acutal holiday but have to stay at home with my children? They were my responsibility.

Then in 2008 crisis had hit again, I had burnt myself out at work doing 70 hours week and working every day, never really saying no or taking time off. I was grieving my mum and craving approval, a sense of meaning and I desperately needed to know that I mattered and that my life mattered. I had no direction or sense of purpose.

I needed recognition that I meant something and life had some greater meaning. I didn’t really know that then, but now I can see that every time I didn’t hit my bonus quota I felt a failure, everytime I had to leave my children to work another shift I felt guilty and nothing I seemed to do, seemed to gain me any awareness that I mattered and what I was doing was making a difference.

Eventually I had a break down and I quit my job in May 2008 and became a stay at home mum and there was no way I could take a holiday and leave Mark at home with my children now. It was bad enough being financially dependent for the first time since I was 14 years old. I was being loved and supported and cared for my Mark and yet I felt even more trapped than ever. Who was I without my salary and without my job? How did I matter? Was cleaning windows and washing clothes really my destiny?

Writing Retreat

It took me 10 years but I finally went on my first retreat last year in 2015.

Karen Williams of Librotas had told me about her writing retreat in 2014 and I instantly knew I wanted to go. By now I had been running my own business with up and down success since 2008. I had wanted to write a book for as long as I could remember. Writing has always been my medium to express myself when I am struggling to be heard. So it made sense to use this tool when it came to discovering how to be heard better in business.

So why was I able to attend this retreat and I couldn’t do the other ones?

There are many reasons and the first that come to mind are:

  1. Karen was travelling with them to the airport so no scary trip to find my own way to the resort. Giving myself permission to go away alone was scary enough and I didn’t need the trip there to also be part of that growth process. As I write that I am a little embarrassed that I was scared of this because I use to be a really confident traveller. But motherhood, divorce and life in general had thrown so many changes at me, I needed a little more love, hand holding and nurturing to make my dreams a reality.
  2. It also helped to realise as a coach Karen had felt apprehensive about running a retreat alone abroad and so she had employed the services of Rebecca from European Coaching Retreats who co-hosts the foreign retreats with Karen. It made me feel less weird about my fears and concerns and I was even more reassured that I was in safe hands and I didn’t need to think or worry about a thing. Rebeccas is on hand with exquisite local knowledge and fluent in Spanish. A natural and adventurous traveller she is delightful and inspiring to listen to and whilst I came to write a book I also gained the confidence to travel hence the trip to New York with my daughter earlier this year.
  3. I had always wanted to write a book and the desire was starting to frustrate me because I had not taken action. I knew that I was not communicating to my client what I did very well and I was impressed with how book writing had launched Karen and her business. (Ironically I had coached Karen to manage her critic when she was writing her first book but I had not known at the time that was what I had done. I had just been me doing what I love) This desire to have a book and hold it and say I did that was so strong. I had for years started things but never seemed to have what it took to actually finish them and I could image my very own book in my hand and as I did so that smile would broaden across my face, my heart grew and my shoulders moved back. Yes writing a book that I was proud of would be such a great sense of achievement.

What I didn’t know is that writing a book would give me so much more than that and I didn’t know how much fear and overwhelm it would release at the same time.

The first retreat was a safe and confidential space for me to deal with my unexpected emotions. I managed those feelings with the support and guidance of Karen and Rebecca which resulted in me modelling out how I moved my clients from overwhelm to clarity and then learning to take my own advice. From the retreat last year the book Manage your critic was born.

This year my book will be published. I can now talk about my business with so much more clarity and confidence. Collaboration and partnerships are easier because I have confidence in my value and the difference I make. I have increased my profit already which has already paid for everything I have invested into writing this book and I can’t wait to see what the future brings because I know I matter. I know that my story has value and this is my purpose. I was supposed to experience all that I did and then I was supposed to share my experience. As are you. You too have a story worth telling, you matter, you are enough and there is enough.

And retreating will now be part of my life. It is vital to my clarity and my confidence. As I always  share what works for me, I encourage you to take time for a retreat if it has been calling you.

If you would like to order your copy of my book it is available here. Better still join me for the celebrations at the book launch on the 2nd December 2016

Feel free to share below your thoughts or join us in the Facebook group Clarity confidence and change.

If you are struggling to be heard and understood and it is preventing you from doing your best work and living your best life then please do book a 30 minute call today with no obligation and I will happily set you up for success. I might be part of the support you need and I might not be but either way you will you know your next best step.

Or find out more about how to manage your critic in 21 days with our on line library and webinars that explain why the critic occurs and practical ways to manage it.

About the Author – Sheryl Andrews – The Strength and Solution Detectivehow to improve listening skills

Sheryl Andrews, Founder of Step by Step Listening, is well known for her fast speaking and her passion to make things happen. But what many of you may not know is that in private behind closed doors she was also no stranger to lapses in self belief and an overwhelming sense of not being good enough.

That was until she learned the importance of being heard and asking for support. In her book she describes the step by step journey she took to learn how to manage her critic turning her overwhelm into clarity in 7 steps.

Sheryl now runs retreats that encourage you to really listen to what you need to work, learn and live at your best with others and the confidence to ask for those needs to be met.

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Published By

Sheryl Andrews, Founder of Step by Step Listening is well known for her fast speaking and highly motivational passion. But what many of you may not know is that in private behind closed doors she was also no stranger to lapses in self belief and an overwhelming sense of not being good enough. Sheryl use to find it difficult when criticised even when she knew they meant well and found it difficult to respond rather than react. A series of 3 events in her personal life exaggerated her emotional overwhelm and forced her to address this problem and conquer her sensitivity to criticism. Today she shares every day stories of every day people and inspires you to discover ways to gain clarity and confidence to change the way feedback and criticism impacts your performance.

View all posts by Sheryl Andrews →

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